Hall of Mirrors: Anne Zahalka Portraits 1987-2007 was the first major survey of a mid-career Australian photographer presented by the Centre for Contemporary Photography in its twenty-one years of operation.
Zahalka works in series form, rigorously establishing an idea across a number of works. For Hall of Mirrors, examples have been gathered from thirteen discrete series, and although Anne Zahalka and curator Karra Rees restricted the theme to portraiture, they were nevertheless faced with a prolific range from which to select.
Some portraits looked like old friends, such as the Resemblance (1987) series created whilst on a residency in Germany, immersing herself in seventeenth-century Northern European painting. While other work playfully engages with postmodernism. For example, in the series Bondi: Playground of the Pacific, Zahalka restaged iconic Australian images, such as The sunbather by Max Dupain and Australian beach pattern by Charles Meere, in the image of multicultural Australia. These restagings have themselves become contemporary icons, replacing the 'original' image on book covers and in the imagination of contemporary Australians.
Zahalka also agreed to exhibit her self portraits, which she makes in the manner of each series. Although not intended for exhibition, we see the artist subjecting herself to the same rigors, performance or theme that she asks of her sitters. Zahalka's self portraits help to establish what we already suspect from her major portrait series, namely that rather than dwell
on the minutiae of a particular individual, Zahalka is more concerned with representing broad social types.
Endlessly engaging and informative about the sitter, Anne Zahalka's portraits nevertheless bring into question expectations about the camera's ability to reveal the inner life of the sitter.